I started off answering a quick Q someone posted on my Facebook page this morning and ended up writing this piece, below, about generational dynamics and the Occupy movement.
The Millennials, born 1982-2004ish and the primary oomph behind the ‘Occupy’ movement, are a “Common Man” gen. Their *civil rights* movement is for the right to have a middle-class existence. The take-to-the-streets thing isn’t really their schtick because they’re not true protestors and they neither hate nor distrust The Man, organizations, or government.
What may help in understanding this phenomenon, is to take the Occupy movement as a statement about the Millennials’ life-long direction and values: in their world view, the needs of the many (“their” many for their generation) outweigh the needs of the few (the environment co-created by GenX orientation to risk, markets and gambling + Boomer ruthlessness and turf battles + Silent Gen glee about market deregulation).
Add it all up and what you have is the widest spread of wealth since the post-War era and a lot of unstability and uncertainty. Millennials are about stepped progression, earned rank and the Average Joe. The Occupy movement, while by no means the exclusion of Millennial interest, was energized by them and by Society’s willingness to consider the future of the gen ascending into young adulthood worthy of attention (not something GenXers experienced at the same age).
The Occupy movement was perceived of as a lot of whining to some GenX, Boomers and Silent gen people, and rightly so, because there was a lot of whining. Millennials have no historical frame of reference to understand that the quality of life they knew as children — parents churning out frequent $20 expenditures on them as though $20 was a quarter or a buck, the massive redirection of govt money for education and children’s programming from which they benefitted, and an overall rise in what was considered standard even for the poorer among us (TVs, computers, cel phones, new clothes each year) — that all of these things they’ve grown up to consider “their right” to have actually came from the environment they now decry and call wrong.
Expect more from Millennials of this orientation toward *The Rights of the Common Man,” as Millennials in their need to create a world that matches their world view do not turn to the streets and sewers to find their path forward (that would be GenX and their Mad-Max-the-world-is-broken view). No, Millennials smile, keep an upbeat attitude and look at adults-institutions-governments with acalm, rightful expectancy of Society’s redirection of money, interest, laws and programs that make their experience of the world match their values.
And it’s all good, for cycles are cycles and corrections need to happen lest a trend become entrenched and Society becomes stuck.